Reserve big man Marreese Speights played his best game of an excellent season in the Golden State Warriors’ 88-84 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder last night, scoring a team-high 28 points (11-18 FGs) in only 25 minutes of play. After the contest, Speights credited Oklahoma City’s mean-mugging, trash-talking backup Kendrick Perkins as inspiration for his ultra-aggressive, even contentious performance: “Shout out to Perkins for helping me get this game.”
Speights says that he went into last night’s game extra motivated due to annoyance gleaned from Perkins’ incessantly menacing persona. Via Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle:
Speights spent much of the game talking trash to the Thunder’s bench — all the while, knocking down 11-of-18 shots for a season-high 28 points. Apparently, most of Speights’ venom was directed at Oklahoma City backup center Kendrick Perkins, who had four points on 2-of-4 shooting.
“It’s just that Perk always has something to say,” Speights said. “He thinks he’s a tough guy, but at the end of the day, his game is terrible. He always has something to say to me, every time we play against each other.
“It always gets me going, so: ‘Shout out to Perkins’ for helping me get this game.”
Speights’ smack would have you believe that he abused Perkins on the offensive end en route to a season-high point total. But his success wasn’t just a result of beating Perkins one-on-one; this is Speights’ only bucket that could be considered thusly:
Eight of Speights’ 11 baskets came when Perkins was his initial defender. Where the sharp-shooting big hurt the Thunder most, though, was after setting ball-screens for Golden State handlers. Perkins’ merit as a defender is limited almost solely to individual post defense these days – he’s simply not quick enough to wall-off a dribbler and recover to his man in time to contest a shot, and Scott Brooks doesn’t ask him to do so.
Steve Kerr understood that and planned accordingly. Speights feasted on pick-and-pops and pick-and-rolls, using his quick release and underrated athleticism to knock down open jumpers or finish against overmatched Oklahoma City helpers. Perkins’ slow feet were instrumental to Speights getting those attempts, but it’s not like the two were on an island playing isolation hoops. The Warriors simply took advantage of a weakness that has as much to do with the Thunder overall than Perkins individually.
Either way, Perk’s presence obviously spurred Speights’ continued brilliance. And as a result, it should be even more fun than normal when these teams meet going forward.
What do you think?
Follow Jack on Twitter at @ArmstrongWinter.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.